Thousands miss Helb funding on national IDs issuance hitch


Student loan beneficiaries at Helb offices in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Thousands of students joining tertiary institutions have missed out on funding by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) following delays in the issuance of national identity cards.

Applicants are required to provide their national ID numbers as well as that of their parents on the Helb portal.

This requirement has seen thousands of students miss out on loans amid delays in the processing of IDs by the State.

Sources at the National Registration Bureau told the Business Daily that the production of the IDs has been hampered by a breakdown of machines, which has slowed down output amid a huge backlog of pending applications.

“There are so many IDs that need to be printed and we have been experiencing breakdowns on our machines, hence the delay,” said a source who sought anonymity.

The Business Daily was unable to reach officials at the registration office by press time.

Students who spoke to the Business Daily said they applied for IDs more than four months ago but they are yet to get them, missing out on the application of the Helb loan at a time when universities have started admitting.

“I cannot apply for Helb because I am yet to get my ID four months later since I made my application,” said one of the students who spoke to the Business Daily.

The hitch has rattled many parents and guardians who are now forced to pay fees for the students out of pocket or seek other sources of funding such as bank loans.

A total of 128,073 students were placed in universities while 193,994 applied for vocational and technical studies but most of them are yet to apply for Helb for lack of IDs.

Helb normally gives loans to students admitted to both public and private universities as well as those in technical and vocational institutions.

Students under government sponsorship are funded by Sh70,000 capitation paid directly to universities and they are expected to meet the other costs using the loan they get from Helb.

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows that the 69 public and private universities admitted 128,073 students against available space for 167,046.

This means that 76.6 percent of available capacity in universities has been filled for this year, a drop from 84.6 percent in 2020 when the institutions were left with 22,298 unfilled places.

The number of students who scored C+ and above in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations that opted to join technical and vocational education and training institutions (TVETs) increased 40 percent, an indication that technical courses are gaining popularity.

“In the 2020 KCSE, 6,617 students who attained C+ and above chose TVET programmes and were placed, up from 2,632 in 2019,” Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha said during the release of the 2020 universities and colleges placement results.

Of the 747,161 candidates that sat the 2020 KCSE examination, 142,540 attained the minimum university entry grade of C+.

allocated money

Government capitation to public universities currently is based on the differentiated unit cost (DUC) model that is pegged on the number of undergraduate students registered and courses they take.

Under the DUC, the government should ideally cater for 80 percent of the unit cost while the remaining 20 percent is borne by the students and the institutions.

Public universities will be allocated money based on course completion rates, community service and gender considerations as the government moves to implement the performance-based funding model.

The Universities Funding Board has set key performance indicators for the institutions of higher learning, including research outputs, number of industrial attachments facilitated by the universities and female students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses.